sheets, hold on. Claire—Claire! Oh good, there you are. Would you grab some sheets, please?”

Claire rol s her eyes at me, fast, and then says, “Of course,” and heads off.

“It’l be just a moment,” the nurse says to the guy, stil al fluttery-voiced, and when I look at her, she’s blushing.

She should be. She’s my mom’s age, at least, and the guy is about mine, I think, which makes what I’m sure she’s thinking a felony.

As for the guy, he’s pretty disappointing now that I’m final y looking at him. I mean, he’s staring at the floor like a lump. He’s probably uncomfortable being here, where everything is so silent, and everyone’s in the kind of sleep you never ever want to fal into, but stil .

Then he looks up and …

He looks up, and my brain actual y stops working for a moment, because the guy is gorgeous. Not gorgeous in the oh-hey-hot-guy way, but actual y truly gorgeous.

Beautiful, even. His skin is caramel colored, a warm glowing golden brown, and his hair is so black that even the hideous fluorescent lights do nothing to it, don’t make it look greenish or stringy. He’s got the kind of cheekbones I’ve only seen on guys in magazines. Ditto for his nose and chin and forehead, and his dark eyes framed by lashes that Tess would murder someone for.

He is, in short, human perfection. Even if he has gone back to staring at the floor and has his arms folded across his chest, fingers tapping against his skin like he’s bored. I lean over and nudge Tess.

“Come on, Tess, open your eyes. This guy is so pretty, I swear he’s better-looking than you.”

The guy clears his throat at that, and I look at him again.

“What? Oh, right, I cal ed you pretty. Sorry. But you are. I mean …” I trail off.

He actual y looks at me then, and I feel my face heat, turn back to Tess.

“Okay, here we are,” Claire says, coming back and handing the nurse the sheets.

“Thank you,” the nurse says. “You can stay and take the soiled sheets away. Abby, can you step out for a minute, please?”

I nod, leave Tess’s room, and wander out of the unit to the waiting area. Today there’s a middle-aged woman sitting in there, head in her hands.

She’s wearing sneakers, and both of them are untied. I can tel she’s either going to cry or start yel ing at any second, so I go sit in the stairwel .

I wait. I’m good at it, I’ve learned a lot about it the past few months, but when I go back to Tess’s room, the nurse, Claire, and the guy are stil there, the nurse and Claire talking quietly.

When I walk in, the guy clears his throat again and speaks for the first time, saying, “Um, can I go?”

“Oh, something something something,” the nurse says to him but I don’t hear it because Tess’s eyes twitch. They don’t open, but there’s definitely movement there, under her closed eyelids.

She’s coming back.

“Wait, please,” I tel the nurse, who does, and turn to the guy. “Say something.”

“Abby,” Claire hisses, and the guy says, “What?” Even his voice is gorgeous, low and soft.

I look at Tess. Yes, there was definitely a sort of twitch there.

“Did you see that?” I say to the nurse. “When he talks, Tess can hear him!”

overwrought, and then me and Clement take a little ride in the elevator. The nurse is pissed that it’s him who comes and gets me, and not someone from security, but Clement points out that at least I’m leaving.

The thing about Clement is that he’s about seventy years old and barely comes up to my shoulder. He sometimes gives bored little kids a “top secret” tour of the hospital, but mostly he just walks around talking to people.

He’s not a real security guard, obviously. But he did give about ten mil ion dol ars to the hospital three years ago. For that kind of money, if you want to spend your days walking around the hospital greeting people, fine.

“Are you al right?” he says, and Clement is one of those people who means what he says. I like that about him, so I tel him the truth because I know he’l listen.

“Tess’s eyes moved.”

“Real y? That’s wonderful! What did the doctor say?”

I shrug. “Nothing. The nurse won’t cal him. She said she didn’t see anything. She made me leave.”

“Do you think that maybe … sometimes we see things we want to.”

I know about that. I fooled myself into it once, and won’t make that mistake again. “Hey, I like you, but not that much, so don’t think I did al this just to see you,” I say, and Clement laughs his wheezy laugh and then pul s out one of the seemingly endless supply of cough drops he’s always got on him.

“You shouldn’t be so worried al the time,” he says. “You’l give yourself gas.”

I laugh then too, and he grins at me as we walk outside.

“Go on home,” he says. “And take care of yourself.”

“Me?” I say. “I don’t—I’m fine.”

Before he can reply, I get on my bike and head to the ferry.

Вы читаете Between Here and Forever
Добавить отзыв


Вы можете отметить интересные вам фрагменты текста, которые будут доступны по уникальной ссылке в адресной строке браузера.

Отметить Добавить цитату